Dan­gers that lurk be­yond the break

Surf Pa­trol 8pm, Seven

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv - Ian Cuth­bert­son

IF it’s not al­ready part of the in- flight en­ter­tain­ment on planes com­ing into Aus­tralia, Surf Pa­trol should be manda­tory view­ing for all pas­sen­gers as they pre­pare to land. What are we fa­mous for, if not our beaches, our beach babes and the club­bies, those fit and tire­less fel­lows ( and girls) whose aim in life is to keep you from los­ing yours in the wa­ter?

The pro­gram of­fers an in­sight into the chal­lenges faced by Aus­tralian life­savers. It glo­ri­fies the beach and at the same time warns of the dan­gers. Pretty though that pris­tine- look­ing wa­ter is, take it for granted, fail to re­spect it, and it could kill you.

Aus­tralian beaches are not just tourist mag­nets; they oc­cupy a spe­cial place in the na­tional psy­che. As Robert Drewe noted in the in­tro­duc­tion to the 2006 an­thol­ogy The Pen­guin Book of the Beach: ‘‘ Many, if not most, Aus­tralians have their first sex­ual ex­pe­ri­ence on the coast and as a con­se­quence see the beach in a sen­sual and nos­tal­gic light. There­after, the beach is not only a reg­u­lar sum­mer plea­sure and balm but an idee fixe which ful­fils an al­most cer­e­mo­nial need at each crit­i­cal phys­i­cal and emo­tional stage.’’ Per­haps this also ex­plains our at­trac­tion to shows about the beach.

I sup­pose it could be ar­gued that Bay­watch ( 1989- 2001) did the same thing for Cal­i­for­nian beaches. But Cal­i­for­nian beaches are, by com­par­i­son, dead ugly. And Bay­watch was a soapie, a dread­ful hodge­podge of con­trived beach ac­tion and ap­palling per­for­mances, with plots limper than last week’s let­tuce.

While it be­longs loosely un­der the re­al­ity um­brella, Surf Pa­trol has its share of drama. There are no scripts here. When a man dies, a man dies.

Tonight a swim­mer goes miss­ing at Brunswick Heads, just north of By­ron Bay on the NSW north coast. Life­guards and emer­gency ser­vices per­son­nel swing into ac­tion. Within min­utes of send­ing out an emer­gency call, the team on the beach is joined by the life­saver he­li­copter crew. But when the young man, a 20- year- old lo­cal, has been miss­ing for more than an hour, hope be­gins to fade. His anx­ious fam­ily ar­rives and can only wait on the sea wall for news.

‘‘ I think if you’re a life­saver, you don’t want to see lives lost,’’ says Mark Ed­wards of Brunswick Surf Life Sav­ing Club. ‘‘ That’s what we train for, and that’s what we’re about. So when some­thing like this hap­pens, we all take it a bit per­son­ally.’’

Ac­tion, beaches, tragedy, hero­ism and lov­able char­ac­ters. For a re­al­ity show, Surf Pa­trol is as en­gag­ing as any fine drama.

Real- life drama: A small boy is lucky to be res­cued from rough surf

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.